The final piece of the maintenance puzzle is stripping and recoating the gym floor. This process typically happens once a year, but some schools stretch it to every other year and others prefer to do it twice a year, during summer and winter breaks.

For at least the first two to three years of a gym floor’s life, it is important to finish the surface with an oil-modified urethane. Once the wood has had time to expand and contract, and gaps have tightened or filled in, it is okay to switch to a water-based coating.

“Most people today have gone to water-based finishes because of quicker drying cure time and lower VOCs that lead to a healthier job,” Allen says.

“Traditional oil-based finishes tend to have a heavier mill thickness and a greater toughness and durability. It’s up to the look the customer wants. Oil finishes will amber, or darken, at a faster rate than water-based finishes.”

The refinishing process is not a small job. First, the floor must be thoroughly cleaned with a dust mop, and then an autoscrubber. Next, janitors should lightly abrade the surface by sanding it with a large propane scrubber or smaller square scrub machine. Then remove the dust from the sanding with a dust mop, and rinse the surface with a riding or other autoscrubber.

To apply the coating, most janitors choose an 18- to 24-inch wide pull bar and pour can, or specially designed mop bucket. It’s important to allow proper cure time between each coat of finish.

“Of all the mistakes you can make with your gym floor, the biggest sin is improperly resealing it,” Uselman says. “We see streaks, missed areas and puddles that lead to peeling. It can cause the biggest financial and performance problems. The trend is to hire the process out. Either make sure you have the correct tools and know how to use them, or hire the process out.”

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The Right Mops For Gym Floor Cleaning
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